No television since 1988: what would you have missed?
On Tuesday a report appeared on a local news website in Kent about an electronics engineer from Southborough who hasn’t watched a TV programme since 1988.
The man, 53-year-old Andrew Lohmann, ditched his television, the article states, when he realised he had developed a bad habit for watching the box. His reliance on TV, he said, had become detrimental to his social life and his interaction with the world around him, so he simply gave it up.
The report goes on to document all the ways in which his life improved once he gave up staring at the set for hours on end.
He found an outlet for his social conscience and began campaigning for nuclear disarmament with his local CND group. He devoted more of his time to his hobbies in computing and technology. He developed a great social life and had ‘lots of women friends’. He had more time to cook and appreciate food and found that he preferred a vegan diet. He even found the time to read a popular broadsheet in its entirety every day despite having dyslexia.
In 24 years without a tube the man clearly hasn’t looked back. Mentally, morally, physically, sexually and socially – in every possible aspect of his life there has been obvious benefit and improvement since giving up TV.
The case is clear then. The only question that remains for us unreformed telly addicts is obvious – is the guy totally off his rocker?
I mean, come on. He missed that bit in I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here when Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell, made a series of hilarious squealing noises whilst putting his arm into a hole full of creepy-crawlies; or the bit in Channel 5 reality show, The Farm where David Beckham’s mistress, Rebecca Loos, had to masturbate a pig. An intensely satisfying intellectual life and an unrelenting stream of sexual partners can’t compensate for these kinds of televisual experiences… right?
But seriously, let’s just take stock of all the iconic TV moments that Mr Lohmann has foregone in the last 24 years and then, maybe, we can come to a conclusion on who has missed out more – him or us.
Let’s start with the remainder of the 80s. Towards the end of 88 he would have missed Scott and Charlene’s wedding in Neighbours. Then he would have missed out the endless reruns of Scott and Charlene’s wedding. Finally he would have missed out on the constant airing of that annoying song they made for Scott and Charlene’s wedding. That’s 1-0 to Mr Lohmann I think.
On our side, in 1989 he would have missed that last bitter-sweet episode of Blackadder Goes Forth and the iconic moment when Edmund and chums finally went over the top. In the same year he would have missed Del Boy falling through a gap in the bar as he tried to look cool for some ladies in Only Fools and Horses. And on the news front, images of the fall of the Berlin Wall would have passed him by. I think we may have clawed one back.
On to the nineties then and Mr Lohmann would have forgone pictures of the release of Nelson Mandela and the funeral of Princess Diana. He also would have missed the arrival to our shores of American giants like the Simpsons and Friends. On the other side of the coin, he would also have missed the arrival of American midgets beating each other up on Jerry Springer. Honours, I think, are sill even.
In sport Mr Lohmann would have missed a seemingly never-ending stream of penalty shoot-outs in which England were knocked out of major tournaments. Also he would have been blinded to the rise and rise of the Premier League and the mounting dominance over it by Manchester United. Unless you’re a masochist or a United fan that’s one to Mr Lohmann I believe.
Maybe this century will provide richer pickings for us. Or maybe not, it began with the first ever Big Brother and from there spiralled into Reality TV meltdown. From Fame Academy to The Farm; from Pop Idol to Popstars the Rivals, From Strictly Coming Dancing to Dancing on Ice to Dancing on Practically Anything, our television was taken over by people falling over both literally and metaphorically for our entertainment.
Staying with the reality vein, the noughties also saw the rise of celebrity fly-on-the-wall style docu-soaps. Starting with the Osbournes in 2002 and reaching out to encompass the likes of Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Denise Richards, the entire Kardashian family and even Snoop Doggy Dogg. It seems there was no one too proud to let the cameras into their lives and homes and we lapped it up, watching these larger-than life characters go through their comfortingly tedious existences while satisfying our increasing need for voyeurism.
On the basis of this it’s hard not to award Mr Lohmann with a quick hatrick and slink back to the dressing room with our heads bowed in shame and defeat. What the hell have we been doing with our lives while Mr Lohmann has been out having social and sexual intercourse with a string of interesting and engaging partners? Watching Z-list celebrities wank off farmyard animals? Surely we should smash our tellies into smithereens in disgrace?
But hang on. Some good TV has also come out of this century. Comedy has been in particularly good form with shows like The Office, Little Britain, The Peep Show, Brass Eye, Ali G, Borat and Bruno. And what about The Thick of it, The Royal Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Inbetweeners?
Then there’s drama. We’ve had The West Wing, The Sopranos, The Wire, 24, Life on Mars, Spooks, Shameless, Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City. We’ve had those all-time great nature documentaries by Sir David Attenborough and David Starkey’s fantastic History of Britain. And coming back to reality TV for a moment, The Apprentice is actually pretty good, isn’t it?
Maybe it’s not a runaway victory for Mr Lohmann then. Maybe there is something to be said for the odd bit of TV. The most startling thing of all being that Mr Lohmann never saw what were probably the most iconic and shocking TV images of all time – the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. Surely there was something to been gained and learned from seeing those stark and dizzying images of terror?
Maybe we’ll call it a draw after all and we can each carry on happily as we were. Mr Lohmann can continue to gain mental and spiritual development through a full and healthy interaction with the outside world while we gain similar development through a full and healthy interaction with QI.
Actually, if I’m honest, his story has inspired me to give up the box for a few days just to see where it takes me. But not until the cricket has finished… then of course it’s the Olympics… and by then the Premiership will have started again…Tagged in: Andrew Lohmann, television
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter